Oh yeah, and the Dodgers were there, too.
As much as Friedman has been lauded—and honored here as Baseball America’s Major League Executive of the Year—for the Dodgers’ success that culminated with the 2020 World Series championship, his imprint was also evident on the Rays. He played a key role in transforming them from one of baseball’s worst franchises to an annual contender, starting with Tampa Bay’s surprising 2008 run to the World Series.
That the teams met on the field—albeit in the “bubble” of Arlington, Texas—for the World Series was something even Friedman admitted was surreal.
But that two teams he helped build were baseball’s best was not really a surprise.
“That’s who Andrew is—he's inclusive by nature, he's analytical by nature and he's passionate by nature,” Dodgers president Stan Kasten told the Tampa Bay Times.
“There are some things that he believes in that work, and he would be the same guy, no matter where he is. He would find the path that was necessary to achieve success. He did it there, he has done it here.”
There are some differences, such as the experience Friedman gained since then-new Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg hired him in 2005 as a 20-something who had played baseball in college but worked in finance to lead their baseball operations department. Not to mention the benefit of the extra $125 million or so in payroll he gets to work with each season in Los Angeles.
But listening to Friedman explain his core principles on the eve of the World Series opener, he truly could have been talking about either team.
Fundamentally speaking, (we look for) guys in the batter’s box who are passive on pitches out of the zone and aggressive on pitches in the zone, and can do damage. Also (we seek those who) add value on defense. And pitchers who have multiple weapons and can execute pitches . . .
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